The new £5.8 billion Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) service into London’s St Pancras will begin 12 months from today.
High-speed Eurostar trains will start using the second link of the CTRL – from Ebbsfleet in North Kent to St Pancras – on 14 November, 2007 according to rail chiefs.
It will follow the completion of the 68-mile Folkestone to St Pancras CTRL and will cut journey times between London and Paris from around two hours 35 minutes to two hours 15 minutes.
Journey times between London and Brussels will be cut from about two hours 15 minutes to one hour 51 minutes.
Eurostar trains will continue using the existing Channel Tunnel terminal at Waterloo station right up to next November’s opening.
The international terminal at Waterloo will then be returned to the government, which promises to re-use the platforms to reduce overcrowding on domestic commuter trains.
Eurostar chief executive Richard Brown said the move was the most significant event in Eurostar’s history.
‘It will mark the start of a new era in travel between the UK and mainland Europe, making high-speed rail an even faster, more reliable and a less environmentally damaging alternative to flying.’
He added: ‘St Pancras International will be a stunning, newly-restored station in the heart of London, with connections fanning out across the country that will make Eurostar accessible to millions of new travellers.
‘We will be competing head on with regional airports, with comparable city centre-to-city-centre journey times, much greater frequencies, and highly affordable through fares.’
Eurostar will also be launching services from Ebbsfleet International, a new station just off junction 2 of the M25, close to the Bluewater shopping centre near Dartford in Kent. Journey times to Paris and Brussels will be 10 minutes quicker than from St Pancras.